A strange reading event last night at Stoke Newington Bookshop.
It was well attended, but I think a lot of people had come to hear Salt Publishing on the short story in the UK... and aaaaagh. Jen didn't show up, there was a problem at home. I only found out when I arrived, just after finding out that the bookshop hadn't ordered any books in...
A good start! And a perfect example of how you have to roll with the punches in this game.
There were two of us reading. First out of the gate was Jay Merrill, who read excerpts from several of the stories in her collection Astral Bodies.
Then me, and I decided to read an entre piece, and chose Irrigation, which was mentioned by Nuala Ni Chonchir on her blog recently as one in a list of stories she likes.
I ought to say, it was a delightful venue for a reading., very intimate. The readers knees almost touching the knees of those in the front row.
Which is great... except when a front row lady decides she is so switched off by what you are reading that she pulls a book at random from the bookshelf to her left, and proceeds to read that instead, turning the pages as ostentatiously as she can.
Off-putting? Intended to be, obviously. But she hasn't met me, and no, lady, it didn't work, did it?!! (But seriously... what planet was she on?)
After the readings, there was question time, and interesting discussion about how Jay and I saw the short story market in the UK. How we write. Character, voice, plotting. And of course, the inevitable question for me about whether I had done any 'research' for my story, which includes details of the mechanics of colonic irrigation.
I answered truthfully.
The bookshop was lovely. The owner was there, listening, and took orders for the book, and ordered some for the shop as well. So every cloud, and silver linings etc.
And afterwards, a crowd went to a local Indian restaurant. A taxi arrived at 10.45 to take me home, as I had to be back to look after my dad who has had a minor op, and is in bed at home.
Total cost to me of doing the reading: Taxi £125 (2 hrs, Stoke Newington to Ringmer) Why? Isn't that a huge madness? Yes. But I was exhausted from the Lit Fest last week, the last trains would have gone well before I could have got back to the right station, no way was I going to drive.. It was an obligation, having said I'd read, and it was the only way I could do so.
I do hope the lady in the front row enjoyed her book, and that she didn't crease the spine too much...